Security and privacy risks of top mobile apps

Appthority performed a static, dynamic and behavioral app analysis on the 400 most popular free and paid apps on the iOS and Android platforms. They analyzed each app for particular behaviors within a test environment.

Results of the analysis:

  • Overall, 83% of the most popular apps are associated with security risks and privacy issues.
  • iOS apps exhibited more risky behaviors than Android apps. 91% of iOS apps exhibit at least one risky behavior, as compared to 80% of Android apps.
  • 95% of the top free apps and 77.5% of the top paid apps exhibited at least one risky behavior.
  • 78% of the most popular free Android apps identify the user’s ID (UDID).
  • Even though Apple prohibits its developers from accessing the UDID, 5.5% of the tested iOS apps still do.
  • 72% of the top free apps track for the user’s location, compared to 41% of paid apps.
  • Although paid apps already generate revenue when downloaded, 59% of paid iOS and 24% of paid Android apps still support in-app purchasing.
  • Furthermore, 39% of paid iOS and 16% of paid Android apps still share data with ad networks.

“In analyzing both paid and free apps in our report, we’ve identified several new security trends within the global app ecosystem,” said Domingo Guerra, president at Appthority. “For instance, we measured how paid apps – like free apps – are now supporting in-app purchasing and sharing data with ad networks as a method of generating revenue, even if it means putting user and corporate data at risk.”

“We also discovered several popular iOS apps that access the unique device identifier (or UDID), even though Apple strictly prohibits that activity because UDIDs can be linked back to the private user information and activity as they navigate across apps,” Guerra added.

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